Neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) constitute a heterogeneous group of tumours that are able to express cell membrane neuroamine uptake mechanisms and/or specific receptors, such as somatostatin receptors, which can be of great value in the localization and treatment of these tumours. Scintigraphy with (111)In-pentetreotide has become one of the most important imaging investigations in the initial identification and staging of gastro-enteropancreatic (GEP) tumours, whereas helical computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), endoscopic and/or peri-operative ultrasonography are used for the precise localization of GEPs and in monitoring their response to treatment. Scintigraphy with (123)I-MIBG (meta-iodobenzylguanidine) is sensitive in the identification of chromaffin cell tumours, although scintigraphy with (111)In-pentetreotide may also have a role in the localization of malignant chromaffin cell tumours and medullary thyroid carcinoma; for further localization and monitoring of the response to treatment both CT and MRI are used with high diagnostic accuracy. More recently, positron emission tomography (PET) scanning is being increasingly used for the localization of NETs, particularly when other imaging modalities have failed, although its precise role and utility remain to be defined. Surgery is still the usual initial therapeutic, and only curative, modality of choice; however, the majority of NETs will require further treatment with somatostatin analogues and/or interferon; chemotherapy may be used for progressive and highly aggressive NETs, but its role has not been clearly defined. For those NETs that demonstrate uptake to a diagnostic scan with (123)I-MIBG or (111)In-octreotide, therapy with radionuclides such as (131)I-MIBG or (111)In/(90)Y-octreotide or other isotopes, presents a further evolving therapeutic modality.
G Kaltsas, A Rockall, D Papadogias, R Reznek and AB Grossman
G E Krassas, Th Kaltsas, A Dumas, N Pontikides and G Tolis
Octreotide, a potent synthetic somatostatin (SM) analogue, was recently evaluated and found to have a beneficial effect in thyroid eye disease (TED), mostly in those patients with a positive Octreoscan-111. Lanreotide (LRT; Somatuline-Ipsen), a new SM long-acting analogue, is more active than natural SM and shows a much longer duration of action. The aim of the present preliminary study was to evaluate the therapeutic effect of LRT in the treatment of TED. Five patients, three males and two females, mean age 50·6±7·6 s.d. (45–64) years, all with severe symptoms of TED were studied. A similar number of patients, matched for age, sex and severity of ophthalmopathy served as controls. All the patients and controls were investigated with orbital scintigraphy using 111In DTPA-d-Phe1-octreotide (Octreoscan111) and selected on the basis of positive octreoscan. The NOSPECS system, as adapted by Donaldson et al. (Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 1973 37 276–-285) and a disease activity score, as proposed recently by an International Workshop, have been followed in this study in order to evaluate the response to treatment. The five patients who comprised the treatment group received 0·04 g LRT i.m. once every 2 weeks over a period of 3 months, after which the Octreoscan-111 was repeated. The control patients were given an injection of water i.m., also once every 2 weeks for 3 months, after which they were evaluated clinically. No Octreoscan-111 was performed in the controls. All patients and controls were evaluated by the same physician, who was unaware of the type of treatment used. A decrease in the NOSPECS score and the clinical activity score was regarded as a positive response, while no change or an increase in the NOSPECS score along with no clinical improvement was regarded as a-negative response. After 3 months of treatment with LRT, four patients showed a statistically significant improvement in ophthalmopathy in both eyes and one in one eye. Three of the control patients with TED did not show any change, one showed a minor improvement in one eye and no change in the other and one showed deterioration in both eyes. An interesting finding was that orbital Octreoscan-111 activity was absent in all the patients after LRT treatment. In conclusion, these preliminary results show that LRT has a beneficial effect on patients with TED, and that since it has to be given only once every 2 weeks, it is probably superior to any other form of SM treatment. However, as the number of patients was small, further studies are needed to confirm our results.
European Journal of Endocrinology 136 416–422
Krystallenia I Alexandraki, Gregory A Kaltsas, Andrea M Isidori, Scott A Akker, William M Drake, Shern L Chew, John P Monson, G Michael Besser and Ashley B Grossman
Cyclical Cushing's syndrome may render the diagnosis and management of Cushing's disease difficult. The aim of the present study was to investigate the prevalence of cyclicity and variability in patients with Cushing's disease, and to identify putative distinctive features.
Retrospective case-note study.
We analysed the case records of 201 patients with Cushing's disease in a retrospective case-note study. Cyclicity was considered as the presence of at least one cycle, defined as a clinical and/or biochemical hypercortisolaemic peak followed by clinical and biochemical remission, followed by a new clinical and/or biochemical hypercortisolaemic peak. The fluctuations of mean serum cortisol levels, as assessed by a 5-point cortisol day curve, defined the variability.
Thirty (14.9%; 26 females) patients had evidence of cyclicity/variability. ‘Cycling’ patients were older but no difference in sex or paediatric distribution was revealed between ‘cycling’ and ‘non-cycling’ patients. The median number of cycles was two for each patient, and 4 years was the median intercyclic period. A trend to lower cure rate post-neurosurgery and lower adenoma identification was observed in ‘cycling’ compared with ‘non-cycling’ patients. In multivariate analysis, older patients, longer follow-up, female sex and no histological identification of the adenoma were associated with an increased risk of cyclic disease.
This large population study reveals that cyclicity/variability is not an infrequent phenomenon in patients with Cushing's disease, with a minimum prevalence of 15%. Physicians should be alert since it can lead to frequent problems in diagnosis and management, and no specific features can be used as markers.
H L Storr, K I Alexandraki, L Martin, A M Isidori, G A Kaltsas, J P Monson, G M Besser, M Matson, J Evanson, F Afshar, I Sabin, M O Savage and A B Grossman
There are few published comparisons between paediatric and adult-onset Cushing's disease (CD). We compare the epidemiology, diagnostic features and cure rate by transsphenoidal surgery (TSS) in these groups.
Retrospective review of patient databases in a single university hospital centre.
Totally, 41 paediatric (mean age 12.3±3.5 years; range 5.7–17.8) and 183 adult (mean age 40±13 years; range 18.0–95.0) patients with CD were investigated.
Paediatric CD was characterised by male (63%) and adult CD by a female predominance (79%, P<0.0001). There were small but significant differences in clinical presentation. Biochemical features of CD were comparable except the serum cortisol increase during a CRH test: mean change (105%, n=39) in paediatric and (54%, n=123) in adult subjects (P<0.0001). Macroadenomas were more common in adult (15%, 28/183) than in paediatric (2%, 1/41, P=0.04) CD. Corticotroph microadenomas were more easily visualised by pituitary magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in adult (76%, 50/66) compared with paediatric (55%, 21/38, P=0.045) CD with poorer concordance of imaging with surgical findings in children (P=0.058). The incidence of ACTH lateralisation by bilateral simultaneous inferior petrosal sinus sampling was comparable in paediatric (76%, 25/33) and adult (79%, 46/58; P=0.95) patients with good surgical concordance in both (82% paediatric and 79% adult). Cure rates by TSS were comparable, with a paediatric cure rate of 69%.
Several features of paediatric CD are distinct: increased frequency of prepubertal CD in males, the different clinical presentation, the decreased presence of macroadenomas and the frequent absence of radiological evidence of an adenoma on MRI.
Krystallenia I Alexandraki, Gregory A Kaltsas, Andrea M Isidori, Helen L Storr, Farhad Afshar, Ian Sabin, Scott A Akker, Shern L Chew, William M Drake, John P Monson, G Michael Besser and Ashley B Grossman
To investigate the early and late outcomes of patients with Cushing's disease (CD) submitted to a neurosurgical procedure as first-line treatment.
In this single-centre retrospective case notes study, 131 patients with CD with a minimum follow-up period of 6 years (124 operated by transsphenoidal surgery (TSS) and seven by the transcranial approach) were studied. Apparent immediate cure: post-operative 0900 h serum cortisol level <50 nmol/l; remission: cortisol insufficiency or restoration of ‘normal’ cortisol levels with resolution of clinical features; and recurrence: dexamethasone resistance and relapse of hypercortisolaemic features.
In patients operated by TSS, remission of hypercortisolaemia was found in 72.8% of 103 microadenomas and 42.9% of 21 macroadenomas, with recurrence rates 22.7 and 33.3% respectively with a 15-year mean follow-up (range, 6–29 years). Of 27 patients with microadenomas operated after 1991, with positive imaging and pathology, 93% obtained remission with 12% recurrence. In multivariate analysis, the time needed to achieve recovery of hypothalamo-pituitary–adrenal axis was the only significant predictor of recurrence; all patients who recurred showed recovery within 3 years from surgery: 31.3% of patients had total hypophysectomy with no recurrence; 42% of patients with selective adenomectomy and 26.5% with hemi–hypophysectomy showed recurrence rates of 31 and 13% respectively (χ 2=6.275, P=0.03). Strict remission criteria were not superior in terms of the probability of recurrence compared with post-operative normocortisolaemia.
Lifelong follow-up for patients with CD appears essential, particularly for patients who have shown rapid recovery of their axis. The strict criteria previously used for ‘apparent cure’ do not appear to necessarily predict a lower recurrence rate.